Moments in Prayer: May 2023
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…” (Galatians 5:22A)
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5a)
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
“…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
Our May prayer focus is inviting and seeking the Holy Spirit to fill us with Patience. This is the fourth quality in the fruit of the Spirit list we find in Galatians 5.
I often think of patience as a virtue which helps people not become restless or annoyed when they face slowdowns or delays: driving in traffic jams, standing in Costco line-ups, walking beside an elderly friend, or helping a child learn to read. While this is one definition of patience, the Old Testament concept of patience is deeper: patience is about being long suffering or slow to anger (ʾārēk in Hebrew). The New Testament (Greek) equivalents (makrothumia and hupomonē) “speak of the ability to take a great deal of punishment from evil people or circumstances without losing one’s temper, without becoming irritated and angry, or without taking vengeance. It includes the capacity to bear pain or trials without complaint, to forbear under severe provocation, and to have the self-control that keeps one from acting rashly even though suffering opposition or adversity” (Carpenter and Comfort, Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words, 357). Wow! We definitely need the Holy Spirit’s help to be filled with this sort of patience.
Patience is first and foremost, an attribute of God. In the Old Testament, God introduces himself to Moses as one who is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6). As the story of Israel unfolds, it becomes evident that God’s patience with people is the key to their salvation and survival (see Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3). Without it they (and we) would be lost. Paul warns that we should not presume on the “riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience” (Romans 2:4), and Peter adds, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Because the LORD is patient to us, we are called to be patient towards others. We are to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1b-2, see also 1 Thessalonians 5:14 and Colossians 3:12-17).
Also, because the LORD is patiently working out his plan of salvation, we are called to patiently endure hardship that we experience here on earth, and patiently serve the Lord. Paul exhorts: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12, see also 2 Corinthians 1:6, 2 Timothy 2:24, Colossians 1:11, Revelation 1:9, 2:2-3, 2:19, 3:10). James adds: “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand…. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:7-11, see also Luke 8:15, Romans 8;25, 2 Timothy 4:2, Hebrews 6:12).
The LORD’s patience towards you. He was patient with you before you began following Jesus, and is patient with you now as you imperfectly follow Jesus! Ask the Spirit to fill you with gratitude for the LORD’s patience.
The call to be patient with others. Who is the Spirit prompting you to extend patience to?
The call to be patient in suffering. What can the Spirit help you to patiently endure?
Pray words of invitation for your own heart:
- Welcome Holy Spirit! Come and fill me today!
- Welcome Holy Spirit! Overwhelm me with gratefulness for the patience shown towards me.
- Welcome Holy Spirit! Teach me to be patient with _____________ (person).
- Welcome Holy Spirit! Help me to patiently endure _____________ (situation).
Pray words of invitation and welcome for the Church:
- Welcome Holy Spirit! Overwhelm us with gratefulness for the patience you show towards us as a church community!
- Welcome Holy Spirit! Teach us to be patient with one another as we seek to be a community which reflects the LORD’s patience for us.
- Welcome Holy Spirit! Help us to patiently endure _____________ (situation) which we are facing as a church community.
Kristal Toews is the Pastor of Discipleship at Northview Community Church in Abbotsford BC. She also serves as a Member at Large on the CCMBC National Faith & Life Team.